We are interested in the function of Adhesion-GPCRs in glial cell development and myelination, with a specific focus on myelinating glia. Myelin is the insulating membrane that surrounds neuronal projections called axons. Myelin is generated by specialized glial cells called Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system and oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system. The importance of myelin is underscored in diseases in which it is disrupted, including numerous peripheral neuropathies and multiple sclerosis.
We became interested in the biology of Adhesion-GPCRs through our discovery that GPR126 is essential for Schwann cell myelination in the peripheral nervous system. Using zebrafish and mouse models, and in collaboration with other members of the Adhesion-GPCR Consortium, we are currently working to define domain-specific and cell type-specific functions of GPR126 in the peripheral nervous system as well as activating ligands and downstream signaling events. Excitingly, beyond GPR126, there are several Adhesion-GPCRs expressed in myelinating glia in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Another major focus of the Monk lab, therefore, is to define the function of these Adhesion-GPCRs in glial cell development, myelination, myelin maintenance, and regeneration.